The Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) has conducted a series of underwater tests with an unmanned undersea glider at Woronora Dam near Sydney.
The flying wing shaped Sun Ray Glider has a roughly five metre wingspan. For the trial which was conducted in March, the glider was launched and recovered from a barge with the support of a team from Ron Allum Deepsea Services.
A Defence release says the glider contains an internal buoyancy vessel that can be flooded or pumped out to change the vehicle’s displacement, making it sink or rise. The resulting movement of water over the wing’s surface generates forward thrust, removing the need for propeller or waterjet propulsion.
The glider is partly made from syntactic composite foam that holds its shape even at extreme pressures, giving the glider greater depth capability than manned submarines. Defence says the concept may allow missions of up to three months and more than 2,000 nautical miles.